A survey can reveal structural defects the eye overlooks – don’t buy property without one!
If I had a pound for every client who asked whether or not they need bother with a building survey in respect of their property purchase, I would be contemplating retirement rather than writing this article. I always advise in favour of a survey – it will reveal defects that the legal paperwork or a physical inspection may not expose and, as such, is well worth factoring into your budget. The purchase of a dwelling is likely to be the largest investment you will ever make, so why would you not commission a survey costing a fraction of the property’s value?
Interestingly, an old report suggested four out of five property buyers did not commission a survey when purchasing, which is a staggering statistic. The excuses they cited were varied: their bank valuation would suffice; the property was brand new; it was an old house – none of which amounts to a good reason. A bank valuation is there for the protection of the bank, not the buyer, and to ensure that the bank will not be lending too much compared with the value of the property. Structural ten-year guarantees given on brand new houses are, in fact, warranties that only cover major and minor defects for the first two years; thereafter only major defects are covered. If on the other hand you are buying an old house, a survey will identify work requiring attention and give you an opportunity to reconsider your offer or even, in extremis, to walk away from the purchase.
Surveys themselves range in type from a Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors (RICS) condition report to a full structural building survey. Most buyers who decide to commission a survey choose to receive a RICS Homebuyer’s Report providing a red-amber-green ‘traffic-light’ rating, while a full structural building survey results in a tailored report highlighting the property’s defects and providing advice on repairs and maintenance. Alternatively, new-build snagging surveys will identify shoddy painting or plasterwork and sub-standard finishes.
If you are seriously considering buying a property, it is always worth commissioning a survey – how else will you find out in advance whether you are saddling yourself with the hidden cost of rectifying problems that a survey would have brought to light?
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